'Comfort Buddies' aim to help calm terminally ill children, adults

DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Hospice of the Western Reserve is getting ready for its sixth annual "Walk to Remember," to be held next Sunday, June 11, at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.

The walk is the Hospice of the Western Reserve's biggest fundraiser. One of the items they are hoping to raise money for is their latest tool in calming and comforting terminally ill patients, both young and old.

"Comfort buddies" are stuffed animals, but not just any stuffed animal. They are weighted, smell like lavender, and can be heated in the microwave for added soothing benefits.

"They are very effective because they are just very calming. So, if we have a patient that is agitated,or anxious or really just struggling, they are really just a ray of light brought to them," said Lynn Hermensky, provider relations manager for Hospice of the Western Reserve.

Cleveland 19 was there as Dr. Lauren Hennessey, a patient, got a comfort buddy of his own. He wanted one that was in the shape of a horse.

"This is one of my favorite animals -- horses and dogs," said Hennessey, to one of the women providing his care.

Hennessey didn't want to be interviewed, but the look on his face and the conversation that the comfort buddy started about the horses he used to care for on a family farm are a great example of why the adorable, specially designed stuffed animals are so therapeutic.

Hennessey's caretaker heated his new comfort buddy up in the microwave for him.

"You can heat it up in the microwave and it smells like lavender -- all comforting effects with patients with dementia, pain, confusion or general discomfort," said Raymond Felton, a Registered Nurse who works with patients at the Hospice of the Western Reserve.

For every $100 that is raised at the "Walk to Remember," one Comfort Buddy will be provided to a hospice patient.

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